I’ve learned quite a lot from my weekly book club at MCCT. We worked our way, chapter by chapter, through Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth. It wasn’t an easy read and there have been many challenging and new ideas. I’ve learned that not only am I not my ego but neither am I my past or my future. Unless I make this choice. Who I am truly exists only in the present and that is what I like to think of as true faith. I say this because the antithesis of faith is not doubt (as some would have us believe) but rather fear and anxiety. These emotions can not exist in the present.
Fear and anxiety, as Jesus noted when He said to mediate on the lilies in the field and the birds of the air, only exist in the future or the past. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Christ also modeled this focus on the present in His life. Note how he dealt with the present when he prayed “give us this day our daily bread.” The future is a conceptual place that we leave up to God to manage. (Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.) Also notice how he praised Mary (treasuring the moment) over Martha (worrying about the future).
As many of you know, I’ve been in Kansas with my family for the Thanksgiving holidays and I spent a great deal of time with both my nephew (almost a year old) and maternal grandmother. She’s not unlike a child these days due to Alzheimer’s disease. This time with them has made me reflect on how Jesus suggested we become “like little children” we will not enter the kingdom of heaven. ("I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.") As with everything else he said, this was meant to be taken metaphorically. My nephew and (now) my grandma mostly live in the present and it really changes how one operates. There is always a wonder, a surprise of first-time experiences.
Of course the advantage we as adults have over children is the gift of perspective. When my nephew is upset, it is the end of his world. He becomes very emotional. I could say my grandmother expresses her frustrations in much the same way. Then later, it’s all forgotten and they have moved on. Not only do we have the ability to judge life events through the filter of our experiences and perspective, but if we choose to be aware of our reactions, we can also choose to how to react.
Eckhart points out we only experience now, not future/past. Things only happen in the now. As the Bon Jovi song goes "It's my life, it's now or never." This is why physical activity, dancing and music are some of my favourite activities. To do them really well, one must be present. During my recent breakup, being present, dealing with the reality of what is (instead of what should be, or could of been or was) really made all the difference. We can learn from our past without obessing or focusing on it because it's a moot issue. And as far as the future goes, it doesn't exist beyond thought (which ironically can only be thought about in the present).
So I'm encouraging you on your day today to take time to "smell the roses." Meditate. Breathe. Experience the now. Listen with your whole being. Be present.